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Volume 25 No. 177
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NCAA Unveils Rule Changes To Reform College Basketball

Effective immediately, the NCAA will let players be represented by NBPA-certified agents after any season
Photo: getty images

The NCAA has unveiled "significant rule changes" aimed at "cleaning up college basketball," according to Dan Wolken of USA TODAY. The organization "took measures to beef up its enforcement of the rulebook, making penalties more severe, adding independent investigators for 'complex' cases and allowing NCAA investigators to 'accept information established by another administrative body, including a court of law, government agency, accrediting body or a commission authorized by a school.'" That change is "highly significant, as it appears to work around a long-standing issue with NCAA investigations: the lack of subpoena power." This could "particularly come into play as the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, which resulted in four assistant coaches being arrested, moves into the courtroom phase over the next several months" (USA TODAY, 8/9). Univ. of Minnesota President and D-I BOD Chair Eric Kaler said the reforms are “enormously significant” for college athletics. Kaler: “It’s been a very, very quick turnaround, which reflects a huge amount of work on the part of NCAA staff and others involved in college basketball" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/9). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote under the header, "What's Really to Come From the NCAA's Student-Athlete Agent Announcement?" (8/8).

AGENTS OF CHANGE: ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach noted among the significant changes is "allowing elite high school basketball recruits and college players to be represented by agents who are certified by the NCAA; allowing eligible underclassmen to enter the NBA draft and return to school if undrafted; introducing more rigorous certification requirements for summer amateur basketball events; and imposing longer postseason bans, suspensions and increased recruiting restrictions for coaches who break rules." The NCAA said that it is also "holding school presidents and athletics staff more accountable for cooperating with investigators." Effective immediately, the NCAA will "allow college players to be represented by NBPA-certified agents (the agents must become NCAA-certified no later than Aug. 1, 2020) beginning after any season." If the NBA and NBPA "change their rules and make high school basketball players eligible for the draft at age 18, as expected, they'll be allowed to sign with an NCAA-certified agent starting July 1 before their senior year of high school, as long as they have been identified as an elite senior prospect by USA Basketball" (ESPN.com, 8/8). In N.Y., Marc Tracy writes the changes regarding agents for elite prospects are a "stark departure" from the NCAA’s "longtime ban on agents’ involvement." The move would extend to high school players, but only if the NBA "changes draft rules that currently bar players from going directly from high school to the pros" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/9).

BETTER RECRUITING CONTROLS: In Raleigh, Wiseman & DeCock write the "summer recruiting calendar is changing to, in the words of the NCAA, reduce outside influences." The shoe companies can "continue to hold tournaments all summer, but college coaches won’t be allowed to attend the majority of them." Though the Commission on College Basketball "suggested the NCAA take a more proactive stance when dealing with academic fraud as it relates to athletes, no changes were made in regard to that in this initial wave of reform." Duke AD Kevin White, a member of the D-I men’s basketball committee, "stressed" that these changes are "just the start." To further "monitor such events, the NCAA is pursuing agreements with apparel companies requiring them to make annual disclosures regarding their involvement in youth basketball." The NCAA "hopes to finalize the new agreements with the apparel companies within the next six to 12 months" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/9). In L.A., David Wharton notes coaches and athletic department staff "must now disclose any personal deals they have with the likes of Adidas, Nike and Under Armour" (L.A. TIMES, 8/9).

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes considering its "capacity for bureaucracy, hypocrisy, exploitation and petty tyranny, the NCAA can hardly make a move without its motives being called into question." Yet while the "common-sense college basketball reforms ... leave significant problems unresolved, they represent a newfound realism from an organization too long devoted to archaic and naïve notions of amateurism." Sullivan: "This, people, is progress" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/9). In Austin, Brian Davis writes the NCAA's changes gives college basketball players "more power." Some are "common sense changes," while others are "minutiae" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/9). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes the NCAA announced what it characterized as "sweeping changes" to men’s college basketball, but the "question now: Is it sweeping as in comprehensive, or sweeping as in under the rug?" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/9).

POSITIVE TAKEAWAYS: NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Lifmann: “I love all these new rules they made, and I like that they have these two different independent groups that will be the ones that talk about suspensions and bring up all punishments. They’re really doing all the things you want to see happen” (“The Happy Hour,” NBC Sports Bay Area, 8/8). ESPN’s Mike Golic: “The bane of college’s existence has been agents showing up on campus, agents being around high school kids before the one-and-done rule, agents showing up on campus while guys still have eligibility left. So now … they are saying, ‘We are going to let this happen, but we are going to control the process’” (Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 8/9).

COULD BE WORSE: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes there is "actually a lot to like" about the NCAA reforms. Some are "legitimate global reforms, particularly to the mechanics of infractions and enforcement." There are some rule changes that will "give basketball players more freedom." But the "one-and-done process is not addressed, nor can it be without cooperation from the NBA and NBPA." Also, the Rice Commission suggested the NCAA "adopt a more proactive stance with academic fraud as it relates to athletics, apparently in reaction" to what happened at the Univ. of North Carolina. That "slipped through the cracks as well." Above all of that, the Rice Commission "never veered from its NCAA mandate to address the real roots of the issues" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/9). CBS Sports Net’s Adam Schein said of the reforms, “This is a heck of a start and I know a lot of people are bashing this. It’s obviously late. This should have transpired a long time ago” (“Time to Schein,” CBSSN, 8/8). ESPN’s Clinton Yates: “The NCAA is doing something we’ve seen in many realms in America, which is decriminalizing what we know is happening and eliminating headaches” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/8).